Today was the toughest so far. Sleep is not easy to come by due to homesickness, jet lag and an extremely irritating intermittent buzzing that comes through my bedroom wall due to some building utility I cannot identify. I estimate I may have slept three hours at best and was woken up roughly every 15 minutes due to the buzzing. It sounds a bit like the sound you hear back home when you get buzzed into an apartment, but it lasts for about 30 seconds. Despite my lack of sleep, when 6:50 rolled around I was out of bed and out the door. A dreary, cold rain greeting me upon exiting my apartment but I got to the train well in time. In fact, I was too early and had to wait quite a while for my delayed train. Once on the train, I was able to relax and enjoy a bit of the scenery from the upper level of the train. I am unsure if this is typical of Belgian trains, but the whole car was dead silent. These trains have sound dampening unheard of by Chicago’s CTA/Metra/L. On top of that, there wasn’t so much as a peep or a rustle from any of my cabin mates. When in Rome. . . Not like I had anyone to chatter with anyway. The silence was relaxing.
Once I arrived at my destination, I walked off the train into the rain, which promptly made me realize that I had forgotten my umbrella on the upper level of the train. In a dangerous split second decision, I dashed back onto the train, up the stairs and back to my seat where my umbrella was sitting. Maybe I should have just let it go, but I’m rather attached to the silly, bent up old thing. Thankfully, the train doors didn’t smash me in the face on the way out. The rain I mentioned earlier was a miserable near freezing drizzle. In fact, later in the office the rain turned to snow. It came down in beautiful billowing swirls, that drew my gaze away from my repetitive training tasks I was assigned at work.
I think I will enjoy working here. My project is has captured my interest (its hard for me to find motivation to work on something I am not interested in). There is more French than I expected. Even though the work is formally in English. Most casual and even work related conversations appear to happen in French. The conversations fly by too quickly for me to pick up much more than the topic being discussed. Some basic vocabulary knowledge and inference based on nonverbal communication helps me get by. I find myself being very grateful that I took so much French in high school. I can put together a few rudimentary sentences of my own, which my colleagues seem to understand and appreciate. I will keep working on improvement in this, as I feel there is a great value in developing this skill.
I had to fight for at least 20 minutes to get my GPS to target home. The interface is tremendously lousy and apparently my street doesn’t exist in it’s database! It’s true that my street tends to have 2-3 different names per city block, but I really struggled to get the GPS set (no cell phone data plan for Gmaps). The car I have been given to drive makes me uncomfortable because it is so large. I live in the heart of a city and am driving a crossover SUV and I don’t need to move anyone around but me! Parking in my tiny apartment garage nearly gave me a heart attack, as my vehicle has trouble fitting into both the garage entrance and my assigned parking space. I hope that I can replace it with a car I find more manageable.
Thankfully, when I arrived home my unit has all the repairs I had asked for. My heater is actually producing heat! I have a router for the wifis! my toilet no longer runs! Hizzah! I feel guilty for not going out to find dinner on the lovely cobbled streets of Brussels, but I am wiped out after a long and stressful day. I have to be up even earlier tomorrow, and a lot of the restaurants in my area are surprisingly closed this late.
I didn’t have the time to take pictures today and I didn’t really see anything interesting or beautiful except at work where I am not allowed to take pictures. I’m sorry I don’t have anything touristy to report today, so here’s a picture of the courtyard view from my apartment that I took a couple of days ago.